There’s so much pressure on parents and kids today. Has any other generation been raised (or had to raise kids) with so many things all up in their faces? From the multi-tasking to the vastness of technology to the pressures of social media pressures to the way we’re expected to be “on” all day long…WHOA. Oh, and it’s also super important to smile and meet those basic needs so, yeah. It’s A LOT.
But if don’t allow ourselves to get caught up in the Negative Nellies, we’ll see there are things we parents can do to positively contribute to our child’s development. So let’s take a deep breath (talking to myself here…) and focus on the things we can control:
Treat baby talk like a real conversation
The conversations start when they’re tiny, fresh nuggets! Talk to baby often, and as they get older, expose them to as many new words as possible. Listen, I love me some “baby talk,” but don’t underestimate the power of real conversation. Don’t know what to say? Just start by narrating whatever you’re doing: “Look at Mama, she’s getting your lunch ready! I’m cutting up grapes. Here’s your fork.” Something is always better than nothing, even if they don’t understand right away. Conversation is how we aid their development, but also create connections with our child.
As kids get older, keep the conversations coming. Sure, they may pick up some new vocabulary words and that’s an added bonus, but they’ll also do this thing where they pretend not to hear you then prove they have, in fact, been listening. And that’ll happen when they dazzle you with surprising insight or make you proud with good decision-making.
Read to your child every day
Reading to your baby is definitely something to embrace every day. Reading books is a great way to develop your child’s brain. As they get older and enter their tweens, you’ll also want to do some light reading, such as books on controlling emotions for kids. Because tweens are FUN.
The younger they start reading, the better chance they fall in love with it and continue. Being a strong reader lends itself to doing better academically, too. I also think people who read are more interesting, but no one asked my opinion.
Remember to do lots of tummy time
Ohmygoodness I used to love tummy time! Those curious baby eyes straining to see what’s in front of them, fixated on our face. It’s such a sweet time to spend together, but it’s also great for the development of your child’s body, especially when they’re young and building their strength. Today, tummy time refers to me napping and I love it.
Support their learning
Teachers would love to rely on parents and caregivers for more support at home. Be it homework, reading, or studying, learning is part of a child’s development and something that needs to start at a young age. It doesn’t end any time soon, so create a strong foundation and prioritize education early on.
Lead by example
Be a nice person. Work hard. Have integrity. Be a good role model for the most important people in your life by being aware that our children bear witness to everything we do and everything we say. When they’re young, they soak it up like a sponge and probably wring it out at the most inopportune times…But as they get older and you generally have more in common, work hard to correct any bad habits you don’t want your kids to emulate. Make it a point to model the kind of behavior and choices you hope to see in your kids.
Expose your children to learning opportunities
There are so many learning opportunities for your children to have as they grow up. From sensory classes as babies to days out to the local zoo or traveling outside of your zip code, there are many different ways to expose kids to learning. I’m a big fan of experiencing different cultures, and that doesn’t have to break the bank. If you can’t immerse yourself in a different country, live vicariously through Netflix or YouTube. This technology isn’t all bad!